Saturday, May 29, 2010

American Dead

This is the fifth year I've run this post, which I usually keep up for one day when everyone is busy. This year, I'm posting it for the entire weekend, until the morning of Tuesday, June 1.

* * *

Today, May 31, 2010 is Memorial Day. It is the day Americans remember, for a moment of silence at 3 p.m. (so it does not interfere with anyone’s picnic or beer swilling), their war dead. We honor all of those who have given their lives in the service of their beloved country, from the Revolutionary War to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, I am remembering the 58,178 American boys who died in Vietnam because I am a veteran of that war. 58,178 American boys who came home in black garbage bags to a no-heroes welcome. Boys who gave their lives not in the defense of America, but for the human rights of the South Vietnamese people to live free from the oppression of communist tyrants.

Or so our boys thought as each one lay dying in a pool of his own blood and urine, crying out to God for forgiveness, to his mom for help and comfort, to his wife and children to say one last “I love you.” IF, that is, he had time to cry anything.

As it turns out, these 58,178 boys gave their lives for . . . nothing.

In a report dated May 29, 2006 by the Associated Press, Calvin Woodward reported that Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s envoy, told Chinese Premier Chou En-lai in 1972,

"If we can live with a communist government in China, we ought to be able to accept it in Indochina [Vietnam]."

Woodward writes,

"Kissinger told Chou that the United States respected its Hanoi enemy as a 'permanent factor' and probably the 'strongest entity' in the region. 'And we have had no interest in destroying it or even defeating it,' he insisted."

Kissinger told Chou,

"What has Hanoi done to us that would make it impossible to, say in 10 years, establish a new relationship?"

Absolutely nothing, Mr. Kissinger, except to kill and torture to death more than fifty-eight thousand sons, husbands, lovers, fathers, brothers, and friends while playing a deadly game of political gamesmanship.

Fifty-eight thousand, one-hundred and seventy-eight . . . Nothings.

Please LISTEN to this video by The Statler Brothers.

A link from TechnoBabe

(Do not forget the boys from other countries who gave their lives for nothing: Australia, South Korea, Laos, New Zealand, and The Philippines.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ripped from the Newpaper

While my Creativity Generator is in the shop for a tune-up and a bit of a rest, this post is some silliness I received by email. Chances are you’ve seen some or all of them floating around the innertubes, but they illustrate the demise of journalism and the extinction of the copy editor.

In the email, each of the following headlines, news items, or classifieds was an actual reproduction of the headline, news item, or classified, leaving little doubt that they are true. I’ve chosen to present them in a list format because (1) I love lists and (2) the post would be four miles (6.43737 km) long otherwise.


"Tiger Woods plays with own balls, Nike says"

"Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25"

A columnist: "One-armed man applauds the kindness of strangers"

"Fish need water, Feds say"

"County to pay $250,000 to advertise lack of funds"

"Caskets found as workers demolish mausoleum"

"Utah Poison Control Center reminds everyone not to take poison"

"Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons"

"Police: Crack Found in Man's Buttocks"


"An Austrailian Army vehicle worth $74,000 has gone missing after being painted with camoflage. Police are seeking public help to find the four-wheel drive, ..."
* * *
From the Police Blotter: "5:00 p.m. — Police were called to Market Square for a report about a 'suspicious coin.' Investigating officer reported it was a quarter."
* * *
From another Police Blotter: "Dog Attack — Police responded to a report of two dogs running loose and attacking ducks at about 11:20 a.m. Sunday. The officer cited a resident for the loose dogs. The duck refused medical treatment and left the area, according to police records."
* * *
"Debra Jackson said she likes shopping at the Dollar Palace because it is convenient and casual.

" 'I don't have to get all dressed up like I'm going to Wal-Mart or something' she said ..."
* * *


FULL SIZE Mattress. Royal Tonic, 20 year warranty. Like new. Slight urine smell. $40. CALL ...
FOR SALE - collection of old people. CALL ...
HUMAN SKULL, USED ONCE only. Not plastic. $200 OBO. Dr. Scott Tyler, ...
1995 NISSAN Maxima, green, leather, loaded, CD, auto start, sunroof, 4-door, good condition, $4500. Not for sale.
TOMBSTONE: Standard gray. A good buy for someone named Grady. Call ...

If my Creativity Generator wasn't on the fritz I might have a snarky comment or two to make. But I'll leave that up to you, fellow Creativists. Lettuce have a real darn good turn-out for this one because I could use a good laugh.

[Thanks, as always, to Joyce in Panama for blog fodder.]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interview with a Bookie

Way back in January of this year (2010, for those who aren’t quite sure), I mentioned in a post that I read 72 books during the year 2009. Two or three commenters expressed surprise that I read so many, if in fact exclamation points denote surprise. I’ll admit that 72 is a goodly number, especially since I’m a slow reader, but I instantly thought of someone who is a Master Reader—or a Bookie, as I like to call her.

Her name is Stasia (STAH-shuh), and she is a friend of mine on LibraryThing (LT). About three months ago, I asked if I could interview her for this blog. She agreed, but I didn’t get around to asking the questions until last week. Boy, how time flies when I have absolutely nothing to do.

Here, then, is my first-ever interview. Don’t expect it to be “Fair and Balanced” like Fox News because I am quite subjective when it comes to my friends.

Me (M): Hola, Stasia.

Stasia (S): Hi, Charlie Brain. [BrainFlakes is my non de plumage on LT, but Stasia changed it a bit.]

M: So how many books did you read during 2009?

S: 542.

M: And so far in 2010, which I believe is the current year?

S: I post my weekly reads on my LT thread on Sundays, and through today, 271.

M: During the past year and not quite five months, you’ve read 813 books. It seems obvious that you’re a speed reader.

S: No. I have never taken any kind of speed reading course. I read a book about it once, but I didn’t really like the way it was done. I don’t speed read, but rather spend time reading—in the middle of the night, when distractions are at a minimum.

My mother taught me to read at age 3, and being a great reader herself, always encouraged me to read. The last time I was tested—and this was 30 or so years ago—I read about 1,000 words a minute.

M: You are a very fast reader, then, as opposed to me being a very slow reader. By the way, I didn’t take any courses in slow reading—it just comes naturally to me because I have a tendency to dawdle or read with my eyes closed in the napping position.

Do you retain most of what you read or, like the rest of us, do story lines and characters eventually become fuzzy and fade away?

S: I think retention depends a lot on the book itself. The books that have made a big impact on me tend to stay with me longer. Some books, I just read them and walk away—those are the ones that really fade from memory, almost as soon as I’ve read them. I will tell you, though, there is no way I’ve retained everything about every book I’ve read.

M: What do you do with quotes or passages that affect you emotionally? Do you keep a notebook?

S: I do the majority of reading at my computer, so I have an MS Word file that I keep as a “Commonplace Book.” I also keep track of favorite quotations—or the most meaningful ones to the text—in my book journal.

M: How about characters or situations that make you cry? You must take a time out to weep and feel pitiful.

S: Oh, I am terrible about getting emotionally wrapped up in characters. I admit that I’m more of a crier when it comes to books than I am in real life.

M: Do you have any reading preferences? Fiction, non-fiction, genres?

S: About the only genre I will not read is horror; I just have too active an imagination for it. I really enjoy mysteries and romantic suspense, although since LibraryThing I read less in those genres than I did even five years ago. I’ve always been a big non-fiction reader—I just find truth stranger than fiction for the most part, plus I have an innate curiosity about everything. I try to read at least 100 non-fiction books a year; it was a challenge that Louis L’Amour presented in his autobiography Education of a Wandering Man, and I’ve tried to do it ever since I read his book.

M: Judging by the number of books you read, I suspect that you don’t purchase all of them. I mean, you’d have to be Queen Midas to buy a dozen books a week.

S: I do participate in LibraryThing’s ER [Early Reader] program, although I’m notorious for taking months to get the books read because I have so many library books that take precedence. I have anywhere from 80-99 library books out at any given time. Last week, I had 94.

M: Finally, there is a quote I like from Alan Bennett’s An Uncommon Reader"You don’t put your life into books. You find it there.” Your thoughts?

S: I see it both ways. As a reader, I bring to any book my life experiences. The same book will never be the same for any two readers because of what we bring to it. For that matter, that same book will not be the same to me twenty years from now because my life experiences will have changed in the meantime.

I can also see how we find life in books: I can live vicariously the life I do not have. I just finished Walter Bonatti’s The Mountains of My Life. I am a forty-eight-year-old overweight woman who will never climb a mountain—but through his words, I can feel like I was up on The Central Pillar of Freney when the temperature was four below zero!

M: Stasia, thank you so much for doing this interview. I truly believe you are one of the kindest, friendliest, and most gracious ladies I know. So do many others: I know you are constantly in trouble with the LT Thread Police because your threads run to 300 messages.

S: **blushes**

Two views of Stasia's bookcases, made by her beloved.
('Tis a good thing they don't have earthquakes in Texas.)

[Unlike myself, Stasia has a real life. She works a 40 hour job at night. She has a family, so there are housekeeping jobs and errands to be done. She homeschools her youngest, who will graduate in June. She spends her evenings with her husband. Depending on her work schedule, she goes to bed between 6 and 8 a.m. She sleeps very little.]

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Don't Do Religion

I don't do religion because it's even more of a tetchy subject than politics—and I don't wish to commit blog hara-kiri.

But not all bloggers are selfish pantywaists like I am. Some actually step up to the plate when they feel strongly about a religious issue. Like Hope, who after much disclaiming, boldly posted her opinion because she was (and is) angry.

There is nothing in my Book of Selfishness that precludes me from pointing to Hope's essay, and I urge you to read it.

For the record, I'll climb out on a limb and tell you that I agree with Hope 100%.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, the same state that gave us a brand-new "immigration law" a few weeks ago. I sure do know a lot about choosing places to live.

[Photo from the NPR web site]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Imagine

One of the recurring themes in my post The Good Old Bad Days was imagination; how, as children of the 50s and 60s, we used our imaginations to make up games and amuse ourselves. Sometimes the rules of the game changed every four to five seconds, which demonstrated creativity but could also draw extreme ire.

Some of us, perhaps many of us, used our imaginations for other than amusement. For some of us, perhaps many of us, imagination was also an escape from reality, from a less-than-idyllic childhood and family. Mine fell into the latter category.

I was going through my Scribblings folder this morning and I found this piece. A coincidence, do you think, or is it fate?

* * * * *

I Imagine

When I was a kid, my imagination was my only real playmate. It didn’t scream at me, make fun of me, or beat me up. It didn’t scare me, hurt me, or make me cry. It struck me, but with ideas instead of emotional fists to the soul. It was my only friend because it never betrayed my friendship. I trusted it and I followed it without question.

We went a lot of places, my imagination and me. We built castles in the sand, forts in the snow, a tree house in the woods.

We were always defending.

We were a lot of people, my imagination and me. We were the sheriff, the king, the hero in the white hat riding the white horse.

We were always stopping the evil.

We did a lot of things, my imagination and me. We made up stories, and the people in them, and the funny things the people said. We laughed.

We were always escaping.

Fifty years later, I still go to imaginary places, places I will never see and places that cannot be seen.

But they need no defending.

I am still imaginary people, like Charles Wadsworth Skinnyfellow and Andrew Lloyd Callahan. I am whoever I am, whoever I want to be, whoever I will be.

But I am never evil.

I still do a lot of imaginary things. I make up stories, and the people in them, and the funny things the people say. I laugh.

But not to escape.

My life, you see, has changed in every way . . . imaginable.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: The Prince of Mist

The Prince of Mist, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)
SBN: 9780316044776
224 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Horror

The Story: The year is 1943 and the place, although never mentioned in the book, appears to be a small town in the south of England. The Carver family moves there to escape the war and purchase a long unused but stately home. There is something very odd about both the town and the house, however. Max Carver, age thirteen, notices that the town clock runs backward. The house has fleeting cold drafts where cold drafts in August should not be, and an overgrown and locked garden is “peopled” with statues of circus characters.

Max and his sister Alicia, fifteen, meet Roland, seventeen, a likeable local boy whom they quickly befriend. Roland is in love with the sea and lives on the beach in a hut he cobbled together, just below the lighthouse his grandfather built. He proudly shows the Carvers the wreck of the freighter Orpheus in the shallow water, broken in half when it ran aground during a storm. Roland’s grandfather was the only survivor and, twenty-five years later, still mans the lighthouse every night. Is he watching for other ships, or could it be something else that keeps his eyes on the water?

Max is a curious boy, and he finds a box of old films left behind by the previous owner in a storeroom. Very strange films indeed of Jacob, a little boy who drowned, of the garden with the statues in different positions and postures, and of a diabolical entity—the Prince of Mist—who can play tricks with time even on film.

There is a sense of urgency that something evil is about to happen, and it is up to the trio of friends to stop it. Do they? That is for the reader to find out.

My Thoughts: This is the same Carlos Ruiz Zafón of the adult sensation The Angel’s Game, but The Prince of Mist was the first book he wrote in 1993 and specifically for young readers. Tied up in legalities for fifteen years, the wait was worth it; this is a spectacular book for its intended audience—as well as for me, an older adult who raced through it. The only adult who figures in the story is the grandfather, who reminded me of Boy Scout camp and listening to ghost stories around the campfire.

Zafón’s writing is not as polished as it is now and he “loses” characters for his convenience, but neither of these things bothered me. This is not classic literature, but a good read with plenty of mystery, non-graphic horror, and an unexpected ending. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

A Double Dose of Love

'Tis Monday morning, and that means it's time for Romance. Capital "R", because I'm a hopeless Romantic.

This video is from Celtic Thunder's first show in 2007. If the lad looks young, he is. His name is Damian McGinty, he's from Derry, Northern Ireland, and he was 14 when this was recorded. The song was written by Paul Anka (from Ottawa, Ontario) in 1960, when I was 13. Fifty years later, I still love it.

And who doesn't remember this song ("Beautiful Night") from Disney's Lady and the Tramp? Okay, so they're only animated dogs. But they're in love, and that's what counts. I especially like the ending scene as they look at the moon and stars . . .

By the way, it isn't only Monday mornings that are time for Romance. It's time every day, morning, noon and night, whenever you feel it in your heart.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Will the Real Imbecile Please Stand Up

Remember when I posted the video Is America a Country? that featured a woman who could not answer a third grade question? Most of you were shocked, appalled, or like me, downright embarrassed.

Well your friend and mine, Sarah, beats that blonde bimbo in spades. This video is a mash-up of the full (and lengthy) interviews available on YouTube, a nice little compilation of a woman who has absolutely no idea what she's talking about. I mean it's a sad day when she can't even tell Katie Couric what magazines she reads. If you have the time, watch the video twice to fully appreciate how stupid this woman is.

But wait, Sarah fans, because there's more to come!

Thass right, friends, she's "written" another book. Titled America by Heart : Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, it will be published by Harper on November 23, 2010—a full six months from now. Here's the claptrap from

Framed by her strong belief in the importance of family, faith, and patriotism, the book ranges widely over American history, culture, and current affairs, and reflects on the key values—both national and spiritual-that have been such a profound part of Governor Palin’s life and continue to inform her vision of America’s future. Written in her own refreshingly candid voice, AMERICA BY HEART will include selections from classic and contemporary readings that have moved her-from the nation’s founding documents to great speeches, sermons, letters, literature and poetry, biography, and even some of her favorite songs and movies. Here, too, are portraits of some of the extraordinary men and women she admires and who embody her deep love of country, her strong rootedness in faith, and her profound love and appreciation of family. She will also draw from personal experience to amplify these timely (and timeless) themes—themes that are sure to inspire her numerous fans and readers all across the country.

Alaskan walrus poop. All this from a woman who doesn't (or can't) read a magazine? There's no word yet on who actually wrote the book for her.

[I will not be posting comments on your comments if there are any. I have a delicate Constitution and I've said all that I'm going to say.]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Good Old Bad Days

Wanna know what fruits my loop? What flies in my soup? What hulas my hoop? (Oh no, Charlie’s on a rant again!) Darn tootin’ I am.

What dips my stick is reading the phrase, “The bad old days,” in blogs and around the various Innertubes. And I read it a lot. Just because we didn’t have BookFace and texting and phones that show movies in 3-D does not mean the “old days” were bad. How could we feel deprived or miss these things before the rotor heads invented them? Even the National Rifle Association didn’t feel deprived before the Chinese invented gunpowder.

The first iPod

Here is a far-from-inclusive list of good things when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s (many of these are from my ex-pat friend Joyce in Panama):


1. You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped without asking.

2. Air for your tires was free.

3. No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the ignition, and the house was never locked.

4. Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger.

5. Soda pop machines dispensed frosty cold bottles.

6. Milk was delivered in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers.

7. Mail was delivered to the house instead of a bank of boxes down the street and around the corner.

8. For the two weeks before Christmas, mail was delivered twice a day.

9. There was a newsreel and a cartoon before the two movies.


1. The school threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed, and they did it!

2. Playing baseball with no parents to help.

3. Being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited you at home.

4. Saturday morning cartoons weren’t thirty-minute commercials for action figures.

5. Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot or a peashooter.

6. Water balloons were the ultimate weapon.

7. Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for the giggles.

8. “Race Issue” meant arguing about who ran the fastest.

9. It wasn’t at all odd to have two or three “Best Friends.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the old days were perfect because they weren’t. But to me life was simpler, more relaxed, and family oriented. Today, with all the technological time-savers, people are busier than ever before. In my time, one of the greatest time-savers was the invention of the automatic washer and dryer; they really did save my mom time.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION TIME! What do you remember that was good about the bad old days? Take your time, and you may even make a list. (Why do I have this feeling in my gut that we'll be hearing from Robert the Skeptic?)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Working: The Early Years

I was never in the carpet-rolling business (way too complex), but I sure know what it felt like to be the “new guy.” All my new, friendly co-workers always stared at me like I was a creature who just crawled out of the sewer, or like my barn door was unzipped and the horse was about to bolt. The females were much better. They contented themselves with giving my ass a quick gander, looked sorry for me, and went straight back to work.

But no one wants to read about my boring office jobs, especially the ones with the Federal Gov’ment, so I’ll tell you about the early years instead.

My working career began in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. The year was 1962, and I was fifteen. I was a caddy, as in golf, at a very exclusive **sniff sniff** country club. The place boasted two 18-hole courses, one of which has hosted the U.S. Open several times.

I have to give me an A+ for that job, based on chutzpah. Skinny as a rail, I schlepped two bags at a time, and on a good day, I could get out of the caddy shack twice. That was a total schlep of 36 holes with leather bags that felt like they were full of bricks instead of golf clubs. So why did I do it? Each golfer paid me $8 in cash, so a four-bag day meant $32. Add tips, and I rode the bus home with $32 and change in my skinny pocket.

Not bad money for a kid in 1962, so I did it again the next summer.

Le crème de la crème of jobs, however, came during the summer between my junior and senior years. My father, who was a less-than-ethical accountant, kept the books for a less-than-ethical clientele. He took me into a bar one night, not to drink, but to introduce me to the Head Guy of the Waiters and Bartenders Union. Long before The Godfather movies the Head Guy oozed Godfather; he scared the crap out of me. Think Tony Soprano giving you the once-over with that little enigmatic smile on his face and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

“Chuck is looking for a job,” my father said respectfully. The Head Guy thought a while and then said, “Okay, I got two openings for a busboy. One’s at the French restaurant across the street and the other is a hotel downtown.” Since I didn’t speak a lick of French I chose the hotel, hoping I could master hotel-talk. The Head Guy nodded and told me to tell the maitre d that he’d sent me. That was it. I was in the Union with no muss or fuss. Unless, that is, I was replacing some poor slob who’d recently met with an “untimely accident.”

Bussing wasn’t a difficult job, but neither was it lucrative because business stank. When I asked the maître d, who was a mean drunk, if there were any other openings in the hotel, he threw a drunken fit. “Alright, then, I’ll speak with the boss,” I said calmly, dropping the Head Guy’s name. I had no intention of doing so because the Head Guy scared the crap out of me, but the next day I received a promotion to room service.

Hello le crème de la crème of money. So much money that I didn't need my one-dollar per hour minimum wage paycheck. I loved that job so much that I kept it when my senior year began. It was then that I learned how to multi-task: I could work at night and not-learn during the day, which worked like a charm.

It was just me and another fellow servicing a fifteen-story building, but we had no thirteenth floor so it was only fourteen-stories. But the small fifteenth floor was where the hotel manager and his family lived, which means we really had only thirteen stories to take care of. Since there was no thirteenth floor, however, the total ended up being twelve.

So how did I make so much money? Ice. The kind that ice machines make. None of the twelve floors had an ice machine, so they had to call room service. The cashier and I had a deal. Give my partner all the orders for floor thirteen and give me the rest. There was a monetary gratuity involved, but I could take a dozen buckets at a time on our private elevator. The cost was 50¢ a bucket and invariably the guest gave me a dollar. There were other lucrative services I provided that involved lucre, but I don’t need to go into those here.

When I graduated from high school in June 1965, I had a nice fat savings book. I’d worked hard for that money, and I was reticent to spend any of it. But then I had “The Idea.”

My mom had cancer, but it was in remission. I took her to the World’s Fair in NYC. It was the first time either of us had flown in an airplane, and it was the last time she saw her older sister, who was also dying of cancer. Mom crammed a lot of living into those few days in August: we saw several Broadway musicals and we ate at fancy restaurants, but mostly we just strolled and talked. We got to know each other for the first time as adults.

Mom died of brain cancer a little over three months later, shortly after her forty-second birthday. Our trip together? It wasn’t worth every penny it cost because it was priceless, something I will never, can never, forget.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Movie Spoof

To commemorate yesterday's MP election in the United Kingdom, I present one of the best spoofs of politicians of all time (IMO). It's from the movie "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas", and this clip features Charles Durning, one of filmdom's great American actors, as the Governor. The reference to the "Chicken Ranch" is the name of the whorehouse, and "Mona" is the Madam, played by Dolly Parton.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Arizona: A State of Hatred

Mami is a Mexican-American. Not just an American, but an American with a qualifier: Mexican. The Great Melting Pot has been showing cracks similar to those in the Liberty Bell for a long time, but now a sledgehammer is making some very serious dents in it.

A sledgehammer blow came on Thursday night, April 29, 2010 when Governor Jan Brewer signed an Act “Relating to unlawfully present aliens”. (The full text of the Act is here in .pdf format.) On the last page of the law it says, “This act may be cited as the ‘Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act’".

Horse manure. Here is the kicker in the Act that gives Arizona lawmen the ability to violate a U.S. citizen's civil rights:
"For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person."
The bolding is mine because these terms are wide open to interpretation both on the street and in a courtroom. Explain to me, for example, what “Beyond a reasonable doubt” means when a judge is instructing a jury. Few, if any, understand it, and that includes yours truly.

Because Mami’s skin color is brown, she is a prime candidate for what boils down to search and seizure of her person. I don’t have to worry about it, though, because my skin color is a sickly, pasty white. This could change sometime in the future, however, if I refuse to salute the neo-Nazi flag.

J.T. Ready (left) and Russell Pearce

This is where the hatred part comes in. State Representative Russell Pearce, who authored the new law, is a friend of J.T. Ready, who in turn is one of Arizona’s leading neo-Nazis. According to an article on Crooks and, “At a June [2010] anti-illegal demonstration at the state Capitol, Ready and Pearce worked the crowd arm-in-arm.”

J.T. Ready, second from right in the suit, at a neo-Nazi rally in Omaha, NB in 2007

A report in the Phoenix New Times on September 9, 2007, had this to say about Ready:
"For anyone who's doubted J.T.'s National Socialist bona fides, especially after he outed himself on, the neo-Nazi MySpace, his participation in this rally is about as blatant as it gets."

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona

Add another hate-monger to the group: Sheriff Joe Arpaio is noted for his unannounced "sweeps” of suspected undocumented immigrants in suspected businesses and drop houses. So unannounced that local police departments are not informed and have no idea what illegal activity by the Sheriff's Department is going on in their own jurisdictions.

USA founder Rusty Childress with Arpaio inside the MCSO's taped-off command post on March 21, 2008

Does Arpaio have ties to neo-Nazi groups? Yes. Arpaio is friends with Rusty Childress, founder of USA, "United for a Sovereign America". When pressed by the New Phoenix Times in an exhaustive report on May 14, 2009, Arpaio said, "Childress is a good guy".

I have barely touched the tip of a filthy iceberg. As I was researching this post one link would lead to another link, immersing me in some very dark and sick corners of the Internet. If you have been following dates of photos and articles, the hatred of our elected officials for those of Latino heritage has been around much longer than the law that purports to be about supporting law enforcement and making our neighborhoods safe. What we have, in effect, is a go to jail free card for anyone with brown skin without any Federal interference.

Criticism of the state of Arizona is more than justified, but don't be fooled. The state of Texas is considering a similar law, and White Supremacist groups thrive in every state of America. For a country that did not recognize black-skinned people as equal humans until 1964, it appears that we are regressing rather than progressing.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy May Day!

I found this short history of May Day on The Holiday Spot, which encourages its use. I've edited and re-written parts of it because, quite frankly, the writing is not very good.

May Day is not an overly prominent holiday in America. Yet it does have a long and notable history as one of the world's principal festivals. The origin of May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it too has a Pagan connection.

For the Druids of the British Isles, May 1 was the second most important holiday of the year because it was when the festival of Beltane was held. It was thought that the day divides the year into half. The other half was to be ended with the Samhain on November 1. In those days the May Day custom was the setting of new fire. It was one of the ancient New Year rites performed throughout the world. The fire itself was thought to lend life to the burgeoning springtime sun. Cattle were driven through the fire to purify them. Men, with their sweethearts, passed through the smoke for seeing good luck.

Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles. The beginning of May was a very popular feast time for the Romans. It was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers. It was a five day celebration in her honor, called the Floralia. The festival would start on April 28 and end on May 2. Gradually the rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane, and many of today's customs on May Day bear a stark similarity with those combined traditions.

May day observance was discouraged by the Puritans. It was revived when the Puritans lost power in England, but it didn't have the same robust force. Gradually, it came to be regarded more as a day of joy and merriment for the kids, rather than a day of observing the ancient fertility rights.

If anyone needs me today, I'll be in the back yard running the cattle through the char broiler and then I may engage in some fertility rites—either with or without Martha, depending on whether or not she has a headache.

Oh, just a bit more history. The Puritans in America are now called Republicans.